Fambrough: Questions abound and little time for LHSAA to find answers _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine

ALEXANDRIA — After two LHSAA area meetings in north Louisiana on Tuesday skeptics probably wonder if the message and the reaction rhetoric would change.

The three-hour third area meeting held Wednesday in Alexandria had perhaps the most significant moment to date. And a consistent spin on what might happen next week when LHSAA principals meet to vote on key issues.

Oakdale High athletic director/football coach Randall Gordon asked Executive Director Eddie Bonine for his opinion on what playoff system the LHSAA would use if the football playoffs started this week.

“We’d compete in five classes,” Bonine said, noting that it was just his opinion and that he would do his best to see to it that all proposals, including those for split playoffs in football and other sports, would be addressed next week at the annual convention at the Crowne Plaza in Baton Rouge.

Bonine also told the group of administrators, coaches and contest officials that constitution-related issues would be addressed during the meeting held at Alexandria Senior High.

Questions about football playoff formats have swirled since last Friday’s press conference in which Bonine announced that the LHSAA’s new attorney, Mark Boyer, issued an opinion deeming the 2013 vote for split football playoffs unconstitutional.

Boyer’s opinion is based on the fact that an article in the LHSAA’s constitution states that proposals that involve changing the classification of schools in more than two classes must be approved by the executive committee before going to a vote.

The opinion by Boyer is different than the one the LHSAA solicited in 2013 after the split football championships that divide teams based on nonselect and select school status was ratified. That opinion, Bonine says, addresses whether teams could be placed in anything other than five classes. Boyer’s opinion is based on procedure.

A final decision on whether proposals like Many Principal Norman Booker’s plan to split LHSAA schools for the playoffs in football, basketball, baseball and softball for all classes will come to a vote next week when the executive committee and parliamentarian meet.

Bonine once again used an analogy based on a Seinfeld episode in which one character buys an expensive sweater for another on sale. The sale item had a small red dot on the pocket.

The sweater, Bonine said, is the domain of the LHSAA, which has to oversee everything. The red dot, he said, is the schools, who look out for their interests. “We have to be together when it comes to the sweater,” Bonine told the group.

There were no negative comments about items involving pay raises for officials that were mandated over the summer. The LHSAA’s rural-metro plan, viewed as a possible alternative to the present split, was the subject of questions and some praise.

Pickering Principal Hub Jordan noted that LHSAA principals passed the original split with a margin of 65 percent.

Franklin Parish football coach Barry Sebren said that the rural-metro plan could be a solution, for the LHSAA’s issues involving public and private schools.

“If this would make them (select/private schools) feel less alienated it could be an answer,” Sebren said. “There’s a reason why we hear about this, every year. Those schools have the money and influence legislators.”

Pickering’s Jordan noted, “There’s a lot of emotion on both sides. We’re all fighting for our kids and what we feel is right. But the majority has spoken and approved the split twice. That should count for something.”